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Education Spending

Volume 630: debated on Monday 6 November 2017

We have been very clear that, with the additional £1.3 billion we are investing in our schools, overall funding will be maintained in real terms per pupil for the next two years, as the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed. Of course, if parents want to check the actual funding for their school, they can see it on the Department for Education website, which has to comply with Office for National Statistics standards, unlike some of the websites that put up inaccurate data.

Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that the additional £3.7 million that we have secured for Shropshire will ensure that there are no cuts to any of our schools? Will she do more to ensure that websites such as School Cuts are confronted about the erroneous information they are putting out, which is causing a lot of concern among parents?

Indeed, it is very much scaremongering. The Department for Education’s published formula illustrations show, as my hon. Friend says, that his Shropshire schools are gaining an additional £3.7 million by 2019-20, of which £2.6 million will be allocated in 2018-19. The websites he mentions are fundamentally misleading, and their claims are based on flawed calculations. They say that money to schools is being cut when it is increasing, and they say that teacher numbers will go down although they are going to go up. Of course, that is all contrary to the Leader of the Opposition’s claims last week, but the national funding formula provides cash gains for every school.

Yesterday it was revealed in The Sunday Times that, on just one day in January, there were more than 50 classes of 50 pupils. The head of one of the schools affected said that that was due to trying to save money on supply teachers as a result of huge budget cuts. Does the Secretary of State agree with that head?

The story was based, I think, on misleading facts. For example, some of the classes were of choirs or restructured PE classes, which would be expected to have more children. The bottom line is that the average primary class size is just 0.7 of a pupil higher than in 2010, despite there being 506,000 more primary school pupils. In fact, the average secondary school class size in 2018 will be some 0.3 of a pupil higher than in 2010. In other words, the figures are broadly stable. In spite of the fact that we have many, many more pupils in the system, we are making places available.